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Sunday, December 31, 2017


by Lind Grant-Oyeye

“Unpresidented,” by Sue Cole at the Galerie St. Etienne via The New Yorker, January 1, 2017

Forty thousand [immigrants] had come [to the U.S. since January] from Nigeria, Mr. Trump added. Once they had seen the United States, they would never “go back to their huts” in Africa, recalled the two officials, who asked for anonymity to discuss a sensitive conversation in the Oval Office. —The New York Times, December 23, 2017

Some day, a hut hurting someplace—
from creaked bolts, jolts and thunder bolts
may find sunshine, side by side the spire
of Mar-a-Largo—a dream.

After the settling of rain, hurricanes and all,
then would they embrace what is left
of the saltiness of seas and foreign sand left
on shore or savor jointly, the after taste of sea weed.

After the atmosphere has rested from pouring rain,
side by side still, they will behold clearly the combined smiles
of gods which used to hide behind layers and layers
of pretentious stratopheric ozone—

After the smiling of gods,
side by side still, they will pour out whatever soot is left
in their bellies as contrite offerings to the gods—
the joint confessional and thanksgiving of immigrant houses,
made welcome.

Lind Grant-Oyeye, a winner of the Universal Human Rights Student Network human rights poetry award, was born in Nigeria. She has work in several literary magazines world wide.

Saturday, December 30, 2017


by Alina Rios

Storm by Juliana Coutinho

Darkness dances
at the bottom of my tea cup,
darker than my Earl Grey amber—
a storm if you read the signs.

The Getty shuts its eyes to the fire-
and-smoke-breathing beast
awakened by Santa Anas.

A man on a bridge in Kentucky
takes his life to the chorus of #metoos
kept silent too long.

A madman at the wheel
of my adopted country’s beat-up bus
drives through hurricanes
and political theater, losing people,
as if the bus’s bottom were his hands,
child’s clumsy hands,
and we’re sand flowing through
into the anonymous
forever of the beach.

Nobody sleeps. Or
nobody sleeps well.
We wake in the night
from dreams of buildings falling,
weapon-wielding children, dead-ends.

The air is electric, Christmas cheer
not a match for it.
If you’re awake, you know. The crows know.
They gather murders over the Capitol.

My tea is cold and darker now.
I drink it up.

Alina Rios is an immigrant and a dreamer. She spent the first part of her life in St. Petersburg, Russia, and now lives in Seattle with her 9-year old son and a ghost-cat. Her poetry has appeared in CrossWinds Poetry Journal, Camroc Press Review, Rust and Moth, and other fine places. She is the Editor-in-Chief of Bracken Magazine.

Friday, December 29, 2017


by Michael H. Brownstein

Part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, known as the 10-02 area, serves as the summer breeding ground for two hundred thousand caribou. Photograph by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty via The New Yorker, December 20, 2017

President Donald Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress, who opened their first year in full control of Washington on rocky terms, are closing it with a flush of late legislative achievements: a sweeping tax overhaul, a long-sought repeal of a pillar of the Affordable Care Act and a surprise deal to open up Arctic drilling—all signed into law Friday. —The Wall Street Journal, December 22, 2017

Hold onto these works.
Let the laps come between us,
The field swamps of black blood leaking from metallic arteries.
Is nowhere safe?
Let these secrets divide us.
Snow fell last night.
In the great white house, the small man looks over his great expanse of green.
He does not know what he has sewn.
The wolves are leaving, coyotes join forces:
wild dogs, feral cats, the great grizzly, the large boar of the forest.
My dog is going blind.
I am covered with scabs of disconnection.
In the far north, whales lock behind cages of plastic.
In the west, fire storms and Gomorrah.
In the south the wrong pythons multiply into more pythons.
Is nowhere safe?
Was the cause of this man in the house on the hill to cause disharmony?
Did he think the snow covering the great oil spill pristine and fresh?
Did he think the snow covering the streets of my town clean linen white?
Did he believe the snow falling over the east blister free and safe?
The man looks out his window.
There is no snow where he is,
only a vast discord sinking into morass and danger.
The snow falls acid white chemically deranged from the sky,
and when it lands, muck and mire, gray, black with fresh blood.

Michael H. Brownstein was the editor of First Poems from Viet Nam, 2011.

Thursday, December 28, 2017


by Jerome Betts

Image by The Telegraph (UK) on Twitter

The UK passport is an expression of our independence and sovereignty—symbolising our citizenship of a proud, great nation. That's why we have announced that the iconic #bluepassport will return after we leave the European Union in 2019. 
Tweet by Theresa May, December 22, 2017

I’m dreaming of a blue passport
Just like the one I used to know
When border crossing with Britain bossing
A good deal more of the show.

I’m dreaming of a blue passport
With every foreign trip I do.
May, your words are strong and true,
And, May, all your promises are too.

Jerome Betts lives in Devon, England, but comes from Herefordshire, and edits the quarterly Lighten Up Online. His verse has appeared in a wide variety of British magazines and anthologies as well as UK, European, and North American web publications such as Amsterdam Quarterly, Angle, Better Than Starbucks, Light, The Asses of Parnassus, TheNewVerse.News, Parody, Per Contra, The Rotary Dial, and Snakeskin.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017


by David Feela

Image: Toycome

  —for Ta-rum-pah-pum-pump— 

This earth
is a package
wrapped in tissue.

glitter and drift
in its globe.

Hold it
and ask why
it feels so small.

Shake it
and worry
it will break.

Put it
back under
the tree.

Believe in
this gift
you don’t know.

David Feela writes a monthly column for The Four Corners Free Press and for The Durango Telegraph. A poetry chapbook, Thought Experiments, won the Southwest Poet Series. His first full length poetry book The Home Atlas appeared in 2009. His new book of essays How Delicate These Arches released through Raven's Eye Press, has been chosen as a finalist for the Colorado Book Award.


by Joan Colby

Researchers believe there are far fewer snowy owls than previously thought, and they worry the birds' long-term survival could be affected by global warming. —U.S.News, December 21, 2017

They have arrived from the north
Exiting the tundra and the lemmings
To hunt along the lake shore
Overlooked by high rises where
They perch noble as statues.

Yellow eyes fasten on a bridge
Where the ghost of Clarence Darrow
Is said to return each anniversary
Of his death. A wreath is placed in the
Lagoon where the arctic birds
Survey prospects like the Vikings
In the long ships headed for the Mediterranean.

What is it about the south that lures them—
These voyagers—the hunger for expansion
Or to be lauded as myth?

Each summer a woman in a Boundary Waters cabin
Awaits the visitation of the snowy owl
She rescued as a fledgling.
He comes wingspread as a westerly wind
To the familiar perch on her veranda.

Here, the photographers, out in force,
Capture the invasion. On barn roofs,
Streetlights, electric poles, they land
With a taste for rats and gulls.

The Greek priests extracted
The entrails of owls to seize upon the future.
Now, the warming world foresees
White feathers floating past the towers
Of condominiums and offices
As the owls descend to warn us.

Joan Colby has published widely in journals such as Poetry, Atlanta Review, South Dakota Review, The Spoon River Poetry Review, New York Quarterly, the new renaissance, Grand Street, Epoch, and Prairie Schooner. Awards include two Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards, Rhino Poetry Award, the new renaissance Award for Poetry, and an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Literature. She is the editor of Illinois Racing News, and lives on a small horse farm in Northern Illinois. She has published 11 books including The Lonely Hearts Killers and How the Sky Begins to Fall (Spoon River Press), The Atrocity Book (Lynx House Press), Dead Horses and Selected Poems (FutureCycle Press), and Properties of Matter (Aldrich Press). Colby is also an associate editor of Kentucky Review and FutureCycle Press.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017


by Cally Conan-Davies

Aleksander Reed "Alek" Skarlatos is an American actor and Oregon Army National Guardsman specialist who, along with fellow Americans Spencer Stone and Anthony Sadler, a Briton and two Frenchmen, stopped a gunman on a Paris-bound train travelling from Amsterdam via Brussels in August 2015. He has been awarded the United States Army Soldier's Medal from U.S. President Barack Obama, and has received France's highest decoration, the Legion of Honour, from French president François Hollande as well as the medal of Arras, France. Skarlatos competed on season 21 of ABC's Dancing with the Stars with pro dancer Lindsay Arnold (pictured), and finished in third place.

I won't let the good men go unsung
Good men throw their bodies on the lives
of their mothers and their children and their wives
and the unknown. Good men don't die alone

Each day this year, my soul has been punched and stunned
by bullet-men ripping through the dance we do
by bully-men raping girls or threatening to
by barging-men pushing first through the doors of power

while good men act as if nothing mattered more
than to restore the faded elf to the christmas tree
to greet you every morning with toast and tea
to be the hand pressed in the hole the bullet tore

I refuse to let the good men go unsung
They are not many. They are one and one and one . . .

Cally Conan-Davies is a writer who expresses here her complex feelings of rage and powerful gratitude.

Monday, December 25, 2017


by Richard Hacken

‘Twas the Eve before Yuletide, and throughout the castle
Not one gerbil was verbal, nor causing a hassle;
With our stockings suspended on pegs by the mantle,
Soon Santa would see how they gracefully dangled.
All the young ones were snoring in gentrified bunks,
Watching video dream-streams of sweet glucose junk.
My dear spouse and I sought communion with Morpheus,
Having taken our Ambien for slumber’s euphorias…
When our slackening shorter-term memory awareness
Was quite rudely attacked by loud noise from the terrace.
So we sped from the bed and we peered past the shutters,
Overlooking fatigue and dead leaves in the gutters.
Freshly frozen precip was lit up by the moon,
Granting clear luminescence almost like high noon…
When some black SUVs bolted into our view:
Armor-plated V-8s, but not one caribou.
From the middlemost window our eyes were assailed
By the sight of Alt-Santa—with his orange ducktail.
Verbosity surged with some grunts, lies and screams,
And he verbally signaled, with the accent of Queens:
Now, Donnie! Now, Kushner! Ivanka and Eric!
On, Sessions! Melania! DeVos and Rick Perry!
Wait a minute! Where’s Tiffany?
Now, Tillerson, Mattis, Now Zinke and Chao!
On, Mnuchin, Mike Pence, Wait a minute…
Where’s Ben Carson now?
Where’s Comey, where’s Flynn? Where are Priebus and Bannon?
They had useless traits that I had to abandon.
Where’s Scaramucci? Where the heck is Sean Spicer?
I’d have kept all these people if they defended me nicer.
It’s time that the Senate repeals and replaces
Every few days just a few of these faces.”
But that wasn’t all: he continued to chatter
About changes he’d make and how much they would matter.
Yuletide was losing and now it would win!
Yes, he would make Christmastime so great again!
“I’m the greatest,” he said, “of all Santas, I promise,
There’s been no Santa greater, if I want to be honest.”

“For too long it’s been Santa who subsidized
The presents and goodies for all of you guys.
Such liberal nonsense is hard to defend,
And so such generosity now has to end.
We’ll keep shipping the presents and building the toys,
But who’s going to now pay for it? The girls and the boys.
Our Department of Toys on Non-Discounted Clearance
Will be happy to debit accounts from their parents.
Our Department of Homeland-Spun Sugar-Plum Canes
Will be headed by Dr. Alt-Saccharin Gaines,
Who’s qualified, ‘cause she’s a 10, a good looker,
And an enemy of all things resembling sugar.
Our Department of Christmas’s Really True Meaning
Has a new secretary named Skepticus Leening,
Who has promised reducing bureaucratic red tape
Till Christmas can be all dissolved in a lake.”

And thus on and on further the Alt-Santa spake,
Till for so many reasons I started to quake.
I was so good and ready to be Doubting Thomas,
When he said one last time, “If I want to be honest…”

So he heard us exclaim as we turned from his face:
“You're not a real Santa. You're just a disgrace.
You’ll soon be gone. You’ll be put in your place.”

Richard Hacken is a poet-librarian
and a firm contrarian
to the reigning vulgarian.


by Melissa Balmain 

"Argh," the herald angels sing,
"Who's this guy who thinks he's King—
Grabbing gold (and other stuff),
Kicking Dreamers in the duff,
Lobbing incoherent tweets,
Flitting off to golf retreats?

"Argh," the herald angels sing,
"How'd they pick this ding-a-ling?

"Christ, it really frosts our gourd,
Seeing such a threat ignored—
Any day, he'll twitter, 'Hey,
Rocket Man, it's bombs away!'
But what do his minions do?
Say, 'Enough' and stage a coup?
No, they simply kowtow while
He's got crazy on speed dial!

"Argh," the herald angels shout,
"Earthlings, while you can, get out!"

Melissa Balmain is the Editor of Light, a journal of comic verse. Her poetry collection Walking In on People (Winner of the Able Muse Book Award), is often assumed by online shoppers to be some kind of porn.

Sunday, December 24, 2017


by Alejandro Escudé

Image from “Donald T***p at Mar-a-Lago” by Eric Harthen.

President Trump kicked off his holiday weekend at Mar-a-Lago Friday night at a dinner where he told friends, "You all just got a lot richer," referencing the sweeping tax overhaul he signed into law hours earlier.  —CBS News, December 23, 2017

There are many places like it in California,
named after high class dreams, places
that promise drinks and ease, places that
don’t exist until you arrive then proceed
to disappear once you do arrive and check into
those warmly lit lobbies, fireplace nearby,
a bar with mortgaged cocktails, European-faux,
and palm trees; in LA as in Florida, palms
are usually guilty as shit—the sun as well,
that red and blue sock puppet in the sky.
I see the allure of signing the tax overhaul
as one would a pricey restaurant bill, blurry
from that last martini, that last buttery morsel
of lobster, well done steak. I could imagine god
as a speedboat, razor-edged as a chef’s knife,
the tomes girding his legitimacy like life rings
on a yacht, his high priests hotel concierges
handing over the only key card to the truth.
We should never think of them as uncouth
or snobby or even criminal. They’re in a hurry
to get there, to get to Mar-a-Lago. They wish
they could have left an hour or two sooner,
but this law had to be signed, a diamond scrawl,
cameras flashing like the eyes of the Titans.

Alejandro Escudé published his first full-length collection of poems My Earthbound Eye in September 2013. He holds a master’s degree in creative writing from UC Davis and teaches high school English. Originally from Argentina, Alejandro lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.

Saturday, December 23, 2017


by Max Gutmann

William H. Harrison
Served in the White House for
Days and then died.

Formerly, now it's a
Model Americans
Speak of with pride.


Senator Cassidy
Lied on TV and made
Talk-show hosts frown,

Coining the Kimmel Rule
Just to ignore it. "It's
Named for a clown!"


Anikin Skywalker
Quitted the Dark Side (he
Saw it was bad),

Prompting its leader to
Tweet: He's Darth Loser! No
Loyaltie! SAD!!!


Roslyn Corrigan
Groped many years ago,
Finally spoke.

Which part was worse, that Bush
Grabbed, or his dumb David-
Cop-a-Feel joke?


Annika Sörenstam
Rose to be golf champ by
Playing the game,

Living on golf courses
T***p serves as President
Doing the same.


Sagey-Be, Kay-Gee-Be,
President Kennedy,
Commonly known as a
Bit of a chump,

Trusted the Russians who
Claimed they'd not tampered with--
Oops. I meant T***p.


Theodore Roosevelt
Said if one's strong, speaking
Softly's the trick.

President T***p, showing
Boomingly boasts of the
Size of his . . . stick.


Catherine Middleton,
Polls say, is England's first
Choice for new queen,

Leading Prince Charles to show
Muttering something that's
Mildly unclean.


Captain America,
Boldly created as
Fascism's foe,

Says after Charlottesville,
"Nazis were right about
Some things, you know?"

Max Gutmann has contributed to RE:AL and other publications.

Friday, December 22, 2017


by Howard Winn

Image by JasperDyne

He stood in the center of the mall
the lights giving the illusion of a halo
hovering round his rather long hair
next to the gaudy merry-go-round
wearing a kind of robe as if an
overcoat against the winter chill
although the concourse and stores
seem a bit over-heated and bright
particularly at the door of the
shop selling Victoria’s Secret
on nearly nude plastic models
of the most perfect proportions
and cocked his head to listen to
the mellifluous baritone voice
sing out over the shoppers
I wish you a merry Christmas
I wish you a merry Christmas
to the somewhat tinny musical
background supporting the lyrics
of joy and even recorded rapture
for it would seem true believers
would be out shopping for the
other proper members of their
faith for spending and buying was clearly
the mark of the savior and redeemer.

Howard Winn's work, both short fiction and poetry has been published in Dalhousie Review, The Long Story, Galway Review, Antigonish Review, Chaffin Review, Evansville Review, 3288 Review, Straylight Literary Magazine, and Blueline.  His B. A. is from Vassar College. His M.A. is from the Stanford University Writing Program. His doctoral work was done at N.Y.U. He is Professor of English at SUNY.

Thursday, December 21, 2017


by Darrell Petska

Transported like a side of beef,
the 45th arrived on a cart,
a small hand jutting from the wraps.

"Dog hater!" growled LBJ.
"Wall builder!" shouted Reagan.
Obama stirred. "Uh . . ."

Onto the stage, positioned off-center,
went the 45th, animatronically correct,
a dead ringer for Jon Voight.

"Jesus Christ!" prayed Jimmy Carter.
"He'll mock my braces," bemoaned FDR.
"Travesty," said Washington. "I cannot lie."

Switched on, the 45th did its test run:
hands moved, head nodded, voice sounded
rather like Putin's—

"I smell a crook," muttered Nixon.
"The only natural area he knows is beneath the belt,"
Teddy complained, and Obama gestured, "Uh . . ."

The techs fixed the Putin glitch,
except for faint tweeting in the background,
and the America First dummy stood ready to wow.

"Uh . . ." spoke Obama, "anyone whose meal preference
is two Big Macs, two Filet-O-Fish, and a malt
will never complete a full term!"—

which perked up Bill Clinton: "Yum!"
Abe sighed. "Shall we never stop this bleeding?"
"Lightweights! I'm huge!" crowed their silicone successor.

Darrell Petska's writing has appeared in Whirlwind, Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, Chiron Review, Rat's Ass Review, Verse-Virtual, previously in TheNewVerse.News and elsewhere. Darrell worked for many years as communications editor for the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


by Gil Hoy

Grant is one of the year’s best 10 books according to the editors of The New York Times Book Review.

Looking for a Christmas present for my son.
He wants to be a politician.

Not the merriest of Christmases
nor the happiest of New Years
for politics in America.

Abraham Lincoln is neatly
standing next to Teddy Roosevelt
at our local bookstore

With best-selling volumes
of FDR and Washington
stacked comfortably nearby.

With another somewhat dusty
book sitting far to the right
On another shelf in the non-fiction

biography section titled
Donald Trump: America’s
Failing President.

Sitting next to a few dull
panned volumes excoriating
Richard Nixon.

My son is a passionate
progressive Democrat.
He is wondering how a racist

With his money God, occupies
the White House in America
with Christmas coming?

As billionaires get tax cuts,
beggared sick lay dying
in their beds

Anti-Muslim venom spews,
gay pride flags are burning,
the NRA controls Congress.

Did our President really just
tweet that a New York
US Senator is a whore?

Did our commander in chief really say
that Rocket Man will be met with fire
and fury like the world has
never seen before?

Looking for a Christmas present for my son.
Not an easy choice to make. Perhaps FDR,
but he seems so far away.

My son wants to be a politician.
He's a sophomore in high school
and wants to save America.
He's always been such a good boy.

Gil Hoy is a Boston poet and trial lawyer who is studying poetry at Boston University through its Evergreen program.  Hoy’s poetry has appeared, most recently, in Ariel Chart, Poetry24, Social Justice Poetry, The Penmen Review, Right Hand Pointing/One Sentence Poems, TheNewVerse.News and Clark Street Review.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017


by Tricia Knoll

Caribou Silhouette by Peter Mather. Caribou bull 
silhouetted in fog along the coastal plain of
Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge,
the calving grounds for the 170,000 strong herd.
A provision in the #GOPTaxScamBill allows
a section of the ANWR to be opened to
oil exploration.
A two-page summary,
all that some of them knew.
Enough to know Corker
got his money. Forget
the bullets that sneak in
special funds for Senator
Toomey. How the landed
white gentry pass through,
pass upwards wealth.
Claim simplicity. A tax bill
opens up drilling in the Arctic
Refuge for one more vote
to sully and abuse
the wild space the first people
sing to, songs of we are
the caribou people. Focus
your cameras carefully
if you want to catch winks,
or that the fog drips chill
into hearts of the many
who say no. Our national
mirror clouds over
in the face of privilege.
We see dimly.
The fog settles, not just
into the mist of war, a shawl
of sadness over us, the, kin
to the tired, the poor, yes kin
even to the caribou people.  

Tricia Knoll is an Oregon poet well accustomed to fog and rain. What she cannot excuse is the claims of Senators voting for the tax bill that they did not know or care how much each stood to gain from passage of the bill. 

Tuesday, December 19, 2017


by Lylanne Musselman

A Wrinkle In Time just in Time

Not fighting on Facebook about the NFL
about whether it’s unpatriotic to kneel—
causing all the false patriots to yell.
Not waking to new Twitter rants,
nor shaking our head over the latest
faux pas that crazy man said.
Not dreading each day more than the next
knowing we’ve lost ground; feeling put under
some endless voodoo hex.
Not fearing nuclear war with Kim Jong Un,
nor wondering which leader is the largest loon.
Not having our country purposely divided,
or seeing the news media accused of being one-sided.

We wouldn’t be worrying over losing our healthcare,
afraid of facing the next health scare.
Not feeling that just to get through each day
we’d need a round of whisky or a special little pill.
Not losing hope of preserving nature’s beauty
because of corporate fracking and looting.
We wouldn’t have to plot every minute
of how we can resist, feeling relief
only because so many of us persist.
Not wondering if losing net neutrality will affect our say,
or which famous male is the biggest pervert, still.
Instead, each day we suffer some new low
from Mr. “Make America Great Again”—our crisis
of electing the 45th President from a TV reality show.

Lylanne Musselman is an award-winning poet, playwright, and artist, living in Indiana. Her work has appeared in Pank, Flying Island, The Tipton Poetry Journal, Poetry Breakfast, TheNewVerse.News, Ekphrastic Review, and Rat’s Ass Review, among others, and many anthologies including Resurrection of a Sunflower, poems to honor Vincent van Gogh (Pski’s Porch, 2017).  A Pushcart Nominee, Musselman is the author of four chapbooks including the recent Weathering Under the Cat (Finishing Line Press, 2017). 

Monday, December 18, 2017


by William Aarnes

“I Have a List of Replacements for the CDC’s 7 Banned Words” —Kevin Drum, Mother Jones, December 15, 2017

The first weekend after the decree
that public norms and preferences
should determine what we know,
my wife and I jokingly wondered
what we should call
the life she’d been carrying
(the sonogram doesn’t show
much of anything).

That Sunday my gleeful parents
skyped to ask us to fly down
to celebrate how the country
was returning to its senses.
They were overjoyed to think
that those unwarranted Social Security
deposits could finally stop
(the wealth that Mom inherited
is just the coolest thing).

By that Wednesday I’d concluded
that my—what would be the right word?—
changeling research assistant  
had stopped coming in to work
(not that I minded,
since any fool could see
that the data we’d been collecting
on the social causes of indigence
didn’t prove a thing).

Now, on the subway, on the streets,
in the building corridors,
on TV, at the gym,
at the construction sites,
in all the classrooms,
even in the military,
everybody’s become a white heterosexual
(thank goodness my DNA test
and particularly my father’s
don’t mean a thing).

William Aarnes lives in South Carolina.


by Joan Colby

When words are banned freedom is vulnerable
As an undesired fetus.
Its existence is not an entitlement.
We thought freedom was science-based
Comprising the diversity
Of race, religion, gender, even the transgender

Of nuance. Not written in stone, transgender
Employs choice in a  way that is vulnerable
To the notion of diversity.
Imagine that a fetus
Could be both science-based
And mystical. An existence less an entitlement

Than a desire. Those who feel entitled
To condemn the idea of transgender
Don’t reckon with what can be science-based
Or perception. If even language is vulnerable
To such dictates-- say the personhood of the fetus—
Then all political diversity

Will be challenged. The world is nothing if not diverse
As Darwin proved. Shape was not an entitlement
But subject to mutation like a fetus
That could be male, female or a transgender
Complexity once entirely vulnerable
To the decisions of science-based

Physicians who assigned gender scientifically based,
Or so they claimed, on diverse
Characteristics. Just like language is vulnerable.
In fact, they felt entitled
To manipulate sexual identity. Transgender
Would not be permitted. The fetus

Was a poltical victim. Its fetal
Nature denied any science based
Authenticity. Words like transgender,
Philosophies such as diversity
Would not be entitled
To exist. Thus we are vulnerable

To the designs of the pseudo science-based ideologues. Vulnerable
As the entitlements. As the fetus,
Male, female, transgender—the very concept of diversity.

Joan Colby has published widely in journals such as Poetry, Atlanta Review, South Dakota Review, The Spoon River Poetry Review, New York Quarterly, the new renaissance, Grand Street, Epoch, and Prairie Schooner. Awards include two Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards, Rhino Poetry Award, the new renaissance Award for Poetry, and an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Literature. She is the editor of Illinois Racing News, and lives on a small horse farm in Northern Illinois. She has published 11 books including The Lonely Hearts Killers and How the Sky Begins to Fall (Spoon River Press), The Atrocity Book (Lynx House Press), Dead Horses and Selected Poems (FutureCycle Press), and Properties of Matter (Aldrich Press). Colby is also an associate editor of Kentucky Review and FutureCycle Press.

Sunday, December 17, 2017


by George Salamon

You do not hear others.
You listen to voices inside yourselves,
Voices crazy with the sanity of greed,
Inspired by the magic of power.
You nurse profane dreams of
Treacheries and lies, never cringing,
Navigating toward escapes from your motives,
While neither God nor man blocks your evasions.
Your end will arrive, by accident or error,
But with it, no Peace on Earth.

George Salamon lives and writes in St. Louis, MO.

Saturday, December 16, 2017


by Mare Leonard

art by Noely Ryan @ ArtStation

You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man. I can grab your pussy, stick out my tongue, spit, sputter like geysers from below.

Into what hell of fake news,  ruse of tax cuts,  mountains of lies, the lawyer in the room guise  stirs the cauldron  today? Don't lean on hopes of Flynt. He scratched a rock, lit a light of immunity for morality or him? Like a geyser, he may spark, sputter, reach to the sky and fizzle. The devil resides in the cauldron below. Deep under the caw caw of the crow, geysers spout up and we shout this is it, the one, howl, don't let babies burn  burn, burn, don't let lifelines fall through the cracks, don't give  billions to the rich. don't mock the middle, the poor, the immigrant. Drown out congressmen in LaLaLand who like Marie Antoinette shout, Let them eat cake. Geese honkhonk, Resist. How does the GOPP, the party of the pedophiles exist, how do they move and eat and sleep? Hooked on opiods, burgers, midnight tweets, a belief in trickle down economics, the lie that sweeps the donors cash for their ten thou dinner treats, another castle on a hill?  We observe, take photos when the earth splits, sweeps you all below. We sing, you can run you but you can't hide, you can shout  but Mueller and the FBI will  crack you GingerBreadMan and your vanilla wafer friends. You'll tremble and crumble, rollrollroll into the underland.  And in the heavens  the #MeToo will light the sky.  We'll sing, love, love, love, hug women, men, babies, The LGBTQ, DACA, Muslims all who  rise from the dead to hear from above no one can  pardon the King of Scam.

Mare Leonard lives in an old school house overlooking The Rondout Creek. Away from her own personal blackboard, she teaches through the Institute for Writing and Thinking and the MAT program at Bard College.  Although her most natural writing voice is humorous she has published in a range of voices and in all forms and subject matters. She was a finalist in last year's NY State Di Biase contest. Some of her latest publications appear in the Vietnam poetry publication from Perfume River, Rats Ass Review, Figroot, Sweet Tree, Eunoia and in the British Journal of Arts&Letters.

Friday, December 15, 2017


by Lee Patton

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan via Quartz

After the Killings 14 December 2012

I could hear 40s screwball dialogue as I woke late,
groggy, that mass-murder morning.  “What’s on TV?”
I asked. “Barbara Stanwyck flick,” you called out
from the kitchen, turning over the French toast.

I gulped coffee while Stanwyck’s character fakes
homemaker celebrity, claiming a country house
 for sham motherhood, not even knowing the name
of the baby who appears out of nowhere. Stanwyck

has to pretend the baby’s hers and put on a diaper
but fumbles.  She’s never changed one in her life.
(Like me, Stanwyck can’t help out one little kid.)
So anyway, then Christmas comes to Connecticut

with all the snow on church steeples and the village
green, glad kids, school out, toy guns, blinking Xmas
trees, the whole New England drill.  Though I knew
it was filmed on a Hollywood lot, the icicles phony,

I wanted it to be real, for that California kid I was,
who yearned for the True American Christmas—
not green grass but sparkling snowfields, not rain
but frosty, flaky white skies, not go-carts but sleds

on the nearest slope. Now, aged orphan, I yearn
for everyone who’s dead. I’d give anything to wake
late and find my dad starting the turkey, my mom
fluttering nearby, turning French toast on the stove,

my big brother plucking slices before they made it
to the table. We can’t recreate that taste, the real
Mexican vanilla my mom used to dazzle the mix.
They’re gone, Mom, Dad, Brother. Christmases pass,

lifeless. I hoped Christmas kept true in Connecticut,
perfect for all yearning kids, when the news came on.

Lee Patton, a Denverite, writes fiction, poetry, drama and commentary. He's won prizes in 2016 and 2017 from Poetry Matters and Winning Writers. Quarterlies that have published his work include Best New Writing 2012, The Threepenny Review, The Massachusetts Review, The California Quarterly,  Poetry Quarterly, Ellipsis, Hawaii-Pacific Review, Adirondack Review and Memoir Journal. His third novel My Aim Is True is out from Dreamspinner Press. “Faith of Power,” a novella, appears in Main Street Rag's 2017 suspense anthology.

Thursday, December 14, 2017


by Crystal Snoddon

“If police can execute an innocent man on video, none of us are safe.” 
—Buck Sexton, The Hill, December 11, 2017

Sweet Security, that phantasmal beauty, lies buried 6 feet under.
I saw the body-cam footage, how her sister,
Paranoia, shot her dead—
don’t watch
spiders scrawl warnings on flesh, listen:
Paranoia laughs, freed from cuffs
of assumed innocence.
Witness her lie on the motel bed, her bare,
thin lips exposed in a cavernous grin,
her adamantine teeth.
She bites hard, man.
Cops claim she’d hidden the rifle under the bed, but
no one dared lift the sham,
confirm the threat.

Paranoia, hungry cougar, prowls. Growls feed me.
Her cousin, Injustice, that crack whore,
trolls the subway,
steals candy from fatherless kid’s pockets,
feeds the family sugar power-drops,
lollipops on dirty sticks,
prefers home-baked shortbreads dipped
in ghetto chocolate, rich and dark.
They all sit on Daddy’s knee,
cuz Mama Liberty
drowned in the harbor, fascist bling chains round her neck,
her tablet cracked, her gown stained black
by pigeon shit.
Everyone runs blind.

Crystal Snoddon is a Canadian writer, whose forthcoming and previous poetry has been nominated for Best of the Net, and can be found in Figroot Press, Rat's Ass Review, Anti-Heroin Chick, among others.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017


by Michael H. Brownstein

      King said. "I'd ask you to go back through history and figure out, where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you're talking about, where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?"
      Hayes asked: "Than white people?"
      "Than, than Western civilization itself," King said. "It's rooted in Western Europe, Eastern Europe and the United States of America and every place where the footprint of Christianity settled the world. That's all of Western civilization."
USA Today, July 18, 2016

So Congressman Steve King of Iowa woke on Monday morning.
The first thing he did was go to the bathroom—outside in a small wooden shack. (1)
He wiped his behind when he was finished with leaves and other weeds. (2)
Then, like a dog, slapped water onto his face, dug his tongue into the pond and drank. (3)
In the house he put on a smock of leaves (4) after a cold snack of simple food. (5)
He walked to work (6) down crooked pathways to his office in a city without focus (7)
and entered a small office in the capitol of no pattern (7 again) —you get it now—
just about everything was designed or invented by someone who was not white.

1. A typical example is the Indus city of Lothal (c. 2350 BCE). In Lothal all houses had their own private toilet which was connected to a covered sewer network constructed of brickwork held together with a gypsum-based mortar that emptied either into the surrounding water bodies or alternatively into cesspits, the latter of which were regularly emptied and cleaned. (Khan, Saifullah. "Sanitation and wastewater technologies in Harappa/Indus valley civilization 2600-1900 BC")

2. 50 B.C. The Chinese first made paper with short lengths of bamboo and then later added cotton linen rags which were soaked in water and pounded into swollen pulp. This was then formed into sheets and dried.
105 A.D: Ts’ai Lun, a Chinese court official, has his name linked to the invention of paper. Most likely, Ts’ai mixed mulberry bark, hemp, and rags with water, mashed it into pulp, pressed out the liquid, and hung the thin mat to dry in the sun.
8th Century: Arabs were known to make writing paper and were the first to use linen in the process. (The Toilet Paper Encyclopedia)

3. Bamboo tubes sealed at the end with clay provided a usable container in Asia, while the inhabitants of the Tehuacan Valley began carving large stone bowls that were permanently set into a hearth as early as 7,000 BC. (Cookware and Bakeware at Wikipedia)

4. Cotton was used for clothing in Ancient India from 5th millennium BC. Linen cloth was made in Ancient Egypt from the Neolithic period. (History of Clothing)

5. The earliest evidence for fire associated with humans comes from Oldowan hominid sites in the Lake Turkana region of Kenya. The site of Koobi Fora (FxJj20, dated 1.6 million years ago) contained oxidized patches of earth to a depth of several centimeters, which some scholars interpret as evidence for fire control. At 1.4 million years of age, the Australopithecine site of Chesowanja in central Kenya also contained burned clay clasts in small areas. Other Lower Paleolithic sites in Africa that contain possible evidence for fire include Gadeb in Ethiopia (burned rock), and Swartkrans (270 burned bones out of a total of 60,000, dated 600,000-1 million years old), and Wonderwerk Cave (burned ash and bone fragments, ca. 1 million years ago), both in South Africa. (K. Kris Hirst, "The Discovery of Fire")

6. C.R. Patterson, born slave, built automobiles before Henry Ford. (Monette Bailey)

7. President Thomas Jefferson recommended Benjamin Banneker (an African-American) to be a part of a surveying team to lay out Washington, D.C. Appointed to the three-man team by President George Washington, Banneker wound up saving the project when the lead architect quit in a fury – taking all the plans with him. Using his meticulous memory, Banneker was able to recreate the plans. Furthermore Banneker invented a perfectly timed working clock. No wonder Steve King was never on time.

Michael H. Brownstein was the editor of First Poems from Viet Nam, 2011.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017


by Gil Hoy

If I make enough money, I just might get
A tax break.  If I join the 1% and belong
to the right club.

Then, I can schmooze with the right
fancy folk, forget the middle class
joke, nothing more than a pig
in a poke.

Or, maybe, I’ll just become a Pass-Through

And when I do, I’ll make sure
all that extra cash



Gil Hoy is a Boston poet and trial lawyer who is studying poetry at Boston University through its Evergreen program.  Hoy received a B.A. in Philosophy and Political Science from Boston University, an M.A. in Government from Georgetown University, and a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law.  He served as a Brookline, Massachusetts Selectman for four terms. Hoy’s poetry has appeared (or will be appearing) most recently in Ariel Chart, Social Justice Poetry, Right Hand Pointing/One Sentence Poems, The Penmen Review, TheNewVerse.News and Clark Street Review.

Monday, December 11, 2017


by Alejandro Escudé

Stiglich cartoon via The Mercury News

“With Twitter as his Excalibur, President Trump takes on his doubters, powered by Diet Coke and long spells of cable news.” —The New York Times, December 9, 2017

Why? They ask. Where’s
the logic? Reason ditched
like an old password.
Meaning based on smirks,
each a swift calculation,
a brand. We worship
Smith's invisible hand.
It does what it does,
its will is indefatigable.
All is genius or craziness.
One could think gambling,
and think of battleships.
Not the scathing solitude
of Churchill but that
of Truman and the bomb.
Yet, that can’t explain
Twitter, the chaos whims,
the bitter word-bones,
the lobbing of stones at
the webbing of Democracy.
To sunlight we gaze
amid echoing gunshots
and plead for a harkening.

Alejandro Escudé published his first full-length collection of poems My Earthbound Eye in September 2013. He holds a master’s degree in creative writing from UC Davis and teaches high school English. Originally from Argentina, Alejandro lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.

Sunday, December 10, 2017


by Joe Amaral

The large, bold woodcut image of a supplicant male slave in chains appears on the 1837 broadside publication of John Greenleaf Whittier's antislavery poem, "Our Countrymen in Chains." The design was originally adopted as the seal of the Society for the Abolition of Slavery in England in the 1780s, and appeared on several medallions for the society made by Josiah Wedgwood as early as 1787. —Library of Congress

Six minutes until game time
and the anthem is about to begin.

I’m afraid to kneel for inequality
in front of 11,000 drunk people

holding their hands half-heartedly
over hearts awaiting the start of

a collegiate soccer game where voice
rather than tangible action counts.

I want to avoid the hostile sneers of fans
awake in fake patriotism, ignorant to

police brutality. My kids follow the lead
of the crowd and stand. I ditch my family,

climbing concrete steps into the breeze-
way, my back to the flag, ducking into

a bathroom. The blood and soil floor is
piss-stained. I sort of kneel, listening as

the reverberation of a bad singer gravels
something antiquated and fragilely austere.

I feel for those going through the motions
dead-eyed. They know dutiful conformity

is an empty gesture unspoken. But a fist
in the air, a knee on the ground, now that

is no small token.

Joe Amaral works 48-hour shifts as a paramedic on the central coast of California. He has two young daughters, Zelia and Rui, and his wife Marina is a surgical nurse. They love spelunking outdoors, camping, traveling and hosting foreign exchange students. His writing has appeared worldwide in awesome places like 3Elements Review, Arcadia Magazine, Crow Hollow 19, The Good Men Project, The Rise Up Review and Writers of the Portuguese Diaspora. Joe won the 2014 Ingrid Reti Literary Award. 

Saturday, December 09, 2017


by Jacqueline Jules

“As we look at the cultural and political landscape, we ask:
‘What does it mean to be complicit in 2017?’” —

A word with soft syllables,
like a snake slithering in the grass.
Silent but deadly.

Who gets bitten if I step away?
If I wait for someone else to speak?

The president’s daughter
said she didn’t know
what the word meant,
denied wrongdoing.

We can’t be guilty
if we do nothing.


Jacqueline Jules is the author of the poetry chapbooks Field Trip to the Museum, Stronger Than Cleopatra, and Itzhak Perlman’s Broken String, winner of the 2016 Helen Kay Chapbook Prize from Evening Street Press. Her work has appeared in over 100 publications including TheNewVerse.News, The Rising Phoenix Review, What Rough Beast, Public Pool, and Gargoyle.

Friday, December 08, 2017


by Harold Oberman

Judy Scott holds a photo of her son Walter Scott on Thursday after Michael Slager, a former police officer who shot and killed Mr. Scott in 2015 after a traffic stop, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for violating Mr. Scott’s civil rights. Credit: Credit Randall Hill/Reuters via The New York Times, December 7, 2017

I went to middle school with him,
Walter Scott.  He was a year behind
And, as to his details, I don't remember.
I just don't remember.

I pulled out an old Annual after the shooting.
Wallace Middle School.  New Horizons. 1979.
My parents sent me there against the advice of their peers.
"Violence," they said, "had happened,"
The past year.  Middle school violence
In the Seventies.  A big brawl, perhaps a stabbing
At the most.  So antique.

38 years later, Walter Scott’s shot in the back.
The cop got 20 years.
Violence does not have a half-life
That diminishes over time
Or a blood-red glow that grows dimmer,
Though we wish it did.

He wears a large-collared shirt in the Annual.
I can't tell its colors.
The photos, back then, were all black and white.

Harold Oberman is a lawyer working and writing in Charleston, SC. His first poem was published in middle school and, subsequently, he has had his work published in TheNewVerse.News.

Thursday, December 07, 2017


by John Guzlowski

Palestinian men walk past a street sign indicating the distance to Jerusalem on December 5, 2017, in Hebron in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Credit: HAZEM BADER/AFP via Haaretz, December 6, 2017

the tribes are divided
the sand ripens in the street

the world waits
for the beginning of time

and a new God
who will teach us to love

John Guzlowski’s writing appears in Rattle, Ontario Review, North American Review, Salon.Com, Crab Orchard Review, and many other print and online journals here and abroad.  His poems and personal essays about his parents’ experiences as slave laborers in Nazi Germany and refugees making a life for themselves in Chicago appear in his memoir in prose and poetry Echoes of Tattered Tongues (Aquila Polonica Press). Road of Bones, his novel about two German lovers separated by war, is forthcoming from Cervena Barva Press.  Of Guzlowski’s writing, Nobel Laureate Czeslaw Milosz said, “He has an astonishing ability for grasping reality.”

Wednesday, December 06, 2017


by Dorothy Baird

Image source: Bloomberg BusinessWeek

I bake cakes—
pound, fruit, layer, sheet—
for birthdays and tea breaks.
Wedding cakes, my greatest feat.

A merger of moist, delicate cake
with frostings and fillings of sweet.
Art and skill create a keepsake
with flowers and furbelows neat.

Oh! But wait!
two grooms will not eat my cake.
Neither a cupcake nor a pancake
will I make.

I have standards, you know.
My baking is conditional
on their being traditional,
then I’ll take their dough.

Dorothy Baird lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Her poetry has appeared on line and in print in TheNewVerse.News, Iodine, Kakalak, and other anthologies and journals, and in her book Indelible Ripples (Kelsey Books 2017).